Holbrooke Tries Diplomacy

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Richard Holbrooke, nominated by President Clinton last week to be U.N. ambassador, has a reputation for being a masterly strategist and head-knocking negotiator who loves publicity. He didn't get the job of secretary of state in 1996 partly because Clinton aides feared Holbrooke would always be promoting himself at their expense. So the question naturally arose last week whether Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was nervous that Holbrooke would try to eclipse her, especially since he would like to have her job in a Gore administration. Albright's aides expressed shock that anyone could think such a thing. In fact, top Albright aides insist that she feels perfectly secure with her new underling. Before last week's announcement, the secretary had a private meeting with Clinton and assured him, "I have no problem with strong men around me."

Sensitive to concerns that he has a tendency to self-aggrandize, Holbrooke says emphatically that there won't be any tension between him and his new boss. "I'm looking forward to being part of the team," he says. But just so everyone understands what that means, Albright met with him for an hour last week to outline what she expects from her new ambassador and explain how she conducted herself when she held the job: carefully.